In a three hour speech at the twice-a-decade party gathering, China’s President Xi Jinping laid out his road map for turning China into the world’s leading global power by 2050.
In the speech, Xi declared victory over “many difficult, long overdue problems” since he rose to power in 2012, and said that China would continue to open its doors to foreign businesses, defending against systemic risks, deepen state-run enterprise reform, better coordinate fiscal and monetary policy, and strengthen regulations over the country’s financial sector.
“Right now both China and the world are in the midst of profound and complex changes,” Xi said. “China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development. The prospects are very bright, but the challenges are very severe.”
Xi plans to prioritize extending the influence of the Communist Party in China during the next five years, which has raised questions over his commitment to implementing tougher reforms and expanding the role of the market. China’s economic growth has surprised to the upside in recent quarters, but ballooning corporate debt and inefficient state-owned enterprises threaten that stability.
But current issues aside, Xi focused much of his speech on defining China’s place in the world. He called for a stronger military, and will seek to boost China’s global clout with infrastructure spending. One such infrastructure project, China’s One Belt One Road initiative, aims to connect 70 countries and more than 66% of the global population.
“We have a fairly clear blueprint of Xi Jinping’s political economy, with incredibly robust, strengthened state-owned sector playing a large role in propping up growth,” said Jude Blanchette, engagement director at the Conference Board’s China Center. “We’re moving into a sort of China Inc. 2.0, a real upgraded version. That, sure, has markets and they’re going to play a really important role in this.”
Xi’s speech, which is known as the party work report, is China’s most important policy document. It includes the framework on politics, the economy, national defense, foreign policy, and Hong Kong and Taiwan. Xi reiterated the party’s goal of reaching “moderately prosperous society” by 2020, a policy that has helped drive economic policy of the last five years.
But Xi also laid out an ambitious strategy to turn China into a “great modern socialist country” through two stages over the next 30 years making up what he has dubbed the “Chinese dream.”
In his words, China will become “a global leader in terms of comprehensive national strength and international influence” over the rule of law, technological innovations, cleaning the environment, reducing disparities between urban and rural areas, and expanding the country’s middle class.
“Chinese people will enjoy greater happiness and well-being, and the Chinese nation will stand taller and firmer in the world,” said Xi of his vision for 2050, and he said that China “is approaching the center of the world stage.”